ROBERT WOOD is interested in nature, suburbs and home. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, LA Review of Books, Jalada, Jacket2, Counterpunch, Cultural Weekly and Singapore Review of Books. Wood is currently the Chair of PEN Perth and lives at Redgate. Find out more at: www.robertdwood.net
TARIQ LATIF has three poetry collections all published by Arc. His latest The Punjabi Weddingswas published in 2007. His most recent publication is the pamphlet Smithereens which is shortlisted for the Callum MacDonald memorial prize and was published by Arc in 2015. Tariq lives in Argyll and loves rambling around the Highlands.
We gather wildflowers
scatter onion skins and rice
upon the ground of parents
bark with them at the endless moon
go to town looking for gold.
They built a bridge of bread
from the book of songs to the book of history
found bushels and ears, eucalypts and axes,
crossed rivers without ships
attacked cows without guns
found a dynasty in a pine grove and set up
to watch the villagers roam.
Over there on the mountain
they spoke of barbarians
in tortoiseshell observations.
Here, we danced for rain
cultivated sunflowers and chrysanthemums,
thought ourselves beautiful
in the adequate reaches of fertility
as we fed hay to the stallions
and burned the thighs of cows in praise of the fog that sat heavy as manacles on our wrists.
Ramanujan talks to Hardy
An equation has no meaning
unless it expresses a thought
of God. We Brahmins do not eat
meat. I have made sacrifices
to be here. Do you even see
the scars on my face – just because
I’m from a different race – because
I won’t compromise the meaning
of my life; to work out and see
the complex beauty of God’s thought
processes. My sacrifices
have left me sad and cold. I eat
alone. I dream and breathe and eat
sums to infinity because
they sing about sacrifices
made by our Gods. Their true meaning
alludes you? You ask for my thought
out arguments. You want to see
proofs. Intuition. You don’t see
it? No doubt those who do will eat
the fruit of my dreams. But that thought,
when I cough blood, haunts me because
I may fall before the meaning
is revealed. My sacrifices
may be wasted sacrifices.
You have made me a fellow – see
Partition theory works – meaning
I can now go home. Let us eat
together, my dear friend, because
life is short. My dark, troubling, thought
makes me ache for my wife. I thought
I would make less sacrifices
back home. My lungs may heal because
the climate is hotter. You see
we can’t predict the future. Eat
with me. God has given meaning
to my life and sacrifices;
because I see and eat the light.
Last thought: you must find the meaning…
“Call an ambulance, the Paki’s dead.”
That Paki happened to be my dad.
His heart had packed in and he had crashed
his car half way down the circular exit
to Tescos car park. In that same hour
I had hooked a trout in a remote loch,
miles away from the madness. The fish
had shivered in the silvery light.
The sun, a newly minted coin, hung low.
And in that same insane hour when
they had prized him out of the car
my brothers, waiting for him at home,
were getting hungry for their fresh baguettes
and my sisters, one in Chicago, the other in Beijing,
were having a rant about boyfriends on Face-book.
Three days later, surrounded by his old friends
we were shovelling earth in his grave.
Two men passing by commented:
“Never seen so many Pakis in a cemetery.”
“That’s just where they belong.” I felt sick.
All works published by the Glasgow Review of Books are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License and the journal reserves the right to be named as place of first publication in any citation. Copyright remains with the poet. http://www.glasgowreviewofbooks.com